He pushed the plate in front of her. It was beautiful, she thought: the brims graced with blue paint, swirls merging and forming into branches and leaves and flowers.
And its inside was equally pretty: the perfectly squared corners, the toasted egg yolk condensed between the spinach and goat cheese veinings, of the slice of quiche resting peacefully on the white ceramic.
She looked up at his eyes, which were commanding what he said politely.
The empty room around them, her figure bending over the table, diving into her own personal cruciation. She fluctuated the full fork in the air before trapping between her hesitant lips.
The unrequested carbs and unsaturated and saturated fats and iron and potassium and Vitamin B’s and calcium descended in her stomach, and she sensed–
Ho bisogno di sedermi. Ma a terra, sul pavimento.
Sedersi a terra rende immediatamente tutto così genuino, così più vero, d’altronde siamo con i piedi a terra quando siamo delle persone oneste, e forse perché la terra è il luogo a cui dobbiamo ritornare assieme alla polvere quando moriamo, e quando sono sul pavimento sono vera e onesta come quando ero da bambina, che a terra mi ci si sedevo perché forse mi era più vicina al petto.
Ma sedersi sul pavimento era trasgressione se alla fermata del treno, “è sporco!” mi diceva mia madre e potevo sedermi solo al sicuro della mia stanza, circondata dai giochi e la televisione e le biglie e le Barbie per terra, anche se la vedevo tutta la polvere sotto il letto e le travi del pavimento mancanti e i fili aggrovigliati attorno alla presa elettrica, ma in fondo la mia casa aveva mura angoli soffitti scrivanie e pavimenti al contrario di quella canzone che mi rendeva tanto triste mentre parlava di una casa bella davvero, ma forse a tali questioni non davo molto peso a quell’età – quale età?
E ora quando mi siedo a terra lo faccio delicatamente, con lo stesso timore che possa essere sgridata, anche se la polvere l’ho aspirata con foga ieri notte fino alle due e la Barbie è quella che voglio replicare sul mio corpo così che anche stasera la cena ha lasciato il posto ad un’intera bottiglia di Nero d’Avola e ora ho paura di cadere a terra come il pavimento fosse cosparso di biglie, e le voci le sento in testa come fosse sintonizzata su un canale che non ho voglia di seguire.
Cosi’ che mi siedo sul pavimento.
Come se fossi una bambina, almeno per un po’.
Would there ever be
Ever, not soon
Enough plasticity of the mind
Allowing one – me – to figure out
Each one of the weapons?
I believed it firmly,
It felt no harm,
It carried no shame.
I could have battled
Many more million years.
You were there plenty
You were not enough of.
I haven’t noticed the exact,
As you unfolded,
When I was looking elsewhere,
When I wasn’t ready
His inwardness exasperated her, his disorganization made her vent in hours-long phone calls while the listener stirred on a chicken soup – i.e., her mother living in Long Island.
But every time she heard him sliding under the duvet at night, trying not to wake her up even if he still smelled like walnuts and pecans, she knew there was nothing she wouldn’t do for him.
It had never occurred to her before.
She watched her father carelessly polish the buttery crab meat from the corners of his mouth – 40% of which had remained in the shells, the wine he would try and pour in his glass only to notice it was closed and thus beckoning the assistance of Amelia just to uncork the bottle.
Her father kept moving with the same pattern she’d seen every dinner time despite the words of the magistrate, whose baritone voice much resembled her father’s:
“You should have accepted that” – to that her father kept on gulping wine and seafood, but with the trepidation, now she noticed, of someone consuming his last supper.
Her mother smacked her hand still holding the seared sea scallop. This returned into the plate violently, splashing the key lime vinaigrette onto her white blouse.
“Mom!” she protested.
“I told you to use a knife and fork” her mother uttered while skewering a fish morsel with a prong.
He glimpsed her figure from the canape side of the table. He had been stopped by the new Associate professor to discuss the lecture notes for History on Medieval Literature.
But he was looking at the red dress she was wearing. They bought it together a couple of years back in Panama, it had a deep neckline encrusted with irregular pearls. It slid slightly across her small breasts as she told a story to a gathering around her, who burst into laughter at the end of it.
She caught his sight – he stood next to the professor with his fists descending along his suite, recalling her mouth screaming, her watery eyes from earlier that afternoon.
She smiled at him. And it took a couple of seconds to him to smile back.
It was only a second’s fraction, a skin’s particle passing by within the beat of an eyelash; but yet, she longed to believe that his touch was anything but accidental.
She thought Sophie didn’t look that pretty on her wedding day. But she didn’t know that one hour from the ceremony the flowers hadn’t arrived yet and Sophie’s dress ripped on the side, at the height of the shoulder blazes – the place Mark would have covered with his arm while sleeping if the night before they hadn’t quarreled and slept on the opposite sides of the bed.
To Camille, there were two types of people: those who sat slovenly on the sunny side of the bench and those who squeezed under the shade of the tree.